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Cowboys hiring former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as next defensive coordinator

Mike Zimmer most recently spent eight seasons leading the Minnesota Vikings

The Dallas Cowboys have found their next defensive coordinator.

The Cowboys finalized a deal to hire former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as their next defensive coordinator on Monday, he confirmed to ESPN. Zimmer and the Cowboys were in discussions late last week.

"I'm excited and honored to be back with a great organization," Zimmer told ESPN's Ed Werder on Monday. "I'm thrilled to work with Mike McCarthy, for whom I have had a ton of respect in our NFC North days, and to do anything I can do to help the Joneses and the Cowboys."

Zimmer will join the Cowboys after former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn left to become the head coach of the Washington Commanders. He would earn the position over former Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, and ex-New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, who also reportedly interviewed for the job.

Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones confirmed on the NFL Honors red carpet Thursday evening that he had "been on the phone all afternoon with our future defensive coach" but declined to confirm that it was Zimmer.

Zimmer, 67, most recently spent eight seasons as the head coach of the Vikings from 2014 to 2021. He'd return to the NFL two years after his dismissal in Minnesota in a Vikings overhaul that included the firing of then-general manager Rick Spielman.

Mike Zimmer is reportedly returning to the Dallas Cowboys for a second stint as defensive coordinator. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Mike Zimmer is reportedly returning to the Dallas Cowboys for a second stint as defensive coordinator. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images) (Nic Antaya via Getty Images)

Zimmer coached the Vikings to a 72-56-1 (.562) record that included three playoff appearances. The Vikings went 2-3 in the postseason under Zimmer and advanced to the NFC championship game in the 2017 season following a 13-3 campaign.

He previously spent 14 seasons in the NFL as a defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons and a previous stint with the Cowboys from 2000-06 under Dave Campo and Bill Parcells.

Zimmer will take over one of the NFL's most talented units that finished fifth overall in yards and points allowed in 2023. The defense faltered, though, in a divisional-round playoff loss that saw the Cowboys allow 415 yards and 41 of the Packers' 48 points. Green Bay's defense scored one touchdown and set up another with interceptions of Dak Prescott.

Zimmer will join a staff run by head coach Mike McCarthy, whose job security has remained under fire amid three straight playoff berths that have produced one win and zero trips to the NFC championship game.